How Donald Trump Could Spark a Trade War With Europe

If America walks away from its climate obligations, the consequences could be very expensive.

Brennan Linsley/AP


For all his talk of renegotiating trade deals and cracking down on China, Donald Trump probably didn’t bargain for a trade war with the United States’ closest allies in Europe. But it’s not out of the question.

On Sunday, former French President Nicholas Sarkozy suggested imposing a carbon tax on US goods if Trump walks away from the Paris climate agreement. Sarkozy is currently competing for the presidential nomination of France’s center-right Republican party.

Under the Paris agreement, which went into effect earlier this month, countries pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. During the campaign, Trump pledged to “cancel” the deal.

Sarkozy said that if Trump abandons the agreement, European countries should impose a 1-3 percent tax on American goods, according to the French newspaper Le Monde. The goal would be to protect European businesses that will be abiding by the global climate agreement from being undercut by US industries that won’t be subject to emissions limits.

It’s a striking position for Sarkozy, who sparked controversy earlier this year when he reportedly suggested that humans aren’t to blame for climate change.

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

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DONALD TRUMP & DEMOCRACY

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And we need your support like never before to vigorously fight back against the existential threats American democracy and journalism face. We’re running behind our online fundraising targets and urgently need all hands on deck right now. We can’t afford to come up short—we have no cushion; we leave it all on the field.

Please help with a donation today if you can—even just a few bucks helps. Not ready to donate but interested in our work? Sign up for our Daily newsletter to stay well-informed—and see what makes our people-powered, not profit-driven, journalism special.

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